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Status of Application and Grant of China’s Invention Patents in 2015

Yalin Gong, Head of the Department of Development and Planning of the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), briefed on the status of application and grant of China’s invention patents and other IP-related matters in 2015 on January 14, 2016.

In 2015, SIPO accepted 1.102 million invention patent applications in total, increasing by 18.7% over the previous year and ranking the first of the world for five consecutive years, and granted 359,000 invention patents, 263,000 of which were from domestic applicants, increasing by 100,000 patents over 2014 with a 61.9% year-on-year growth. The granted invention patents from domestic applicants contained 239,000 service inventions and 24,000 non-service inventions, accounting for 90.9% and 9.1% respectively.

The Top 10 Provinces/Areas/Cities of China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) with the most number of granted invention patents in 2015 were, in order: Jiangsu Province (36,015 patents), Beijing (35,308 patents), Guangdong Province (33,477 patents), Zhejiang Province (23,345 patents), Shanghai (17,601 patents), Shandong Province (16,881 patents), Anhui Province (11,180 patents), Sichuan Province (9,105 patents), Hubei Province (7,766 patents), and Shanxi Province (6,812 patents).

The Top 10 Chinese Enterprises (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) with the most number of granted invention patents in 2015 were, in order: China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (2,844 patents), ZTE Corporation (2,673 patents), Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (2,413 patents), State Grid Corporation of China (2,081 patents), BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd. (1,115 patents), Shenzhen China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. (728 patents), Petro China Company Limited (641 patents), Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Co. Ltd (596 patents), Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. (581 patents), and BYD Company Limited (509 patents).

By the end of 2015, China had altogether 872,000 invention patents (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan), and the Top 10 Provinces/Areas/Cities of China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) with the most total number of invention patents were, in order: Guangdong Province (138,878 patents), Beijing (133,040 patents), Jiangsu Province (113,160 patents), Zhejiang Province (70,981 patents), Shanghai (69,982 patents), Shandong Province (47,694 patents), Sichuan Province (28,723 patents), Anhui Province (26,075 patents), Hubei Province (24,998 patents), and Liaoning Province (23,242 patents).

SIPO accepted 30,548 international patent applications under Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2015, with a 16.7% yearly growth. Therein, 28,399 applications were from Chinese applicants, accounting for 93.0% of the total amount with an 18.3% year-on-year growth, while 2,149 applications were from foreign applicants, accounting for 7.0% of the total amount with a 0.6% year-on-year decrease. Sixteen Chinese provinces/areas/cities filed for more than 100 PCT applications in 2015; therein, Guangdong Province ranked the first with 15,190 applications, following by Beijing, Jiangsu Province, Shanghai and Zhejiang Province, ranking the second to the fifth respectively. The sum total of PCT applications of the above five provinces/cities accounted for nearly 85% of the total amount of PCT applications of China.

In 2015, SIPO optimized the examination and approval procedure for the establishment of patent agencies, cancelled the examination and approval procedure for the establishment of offices of patent agencies, and approved the establishment of 138 patent agencies. SIPO also undertook the computerized reform of National Patent Agent Qualification Examination, and 4,777 people passed the examination. As of now, China has more than 1,200 patent agencies and more than 12,000 practicing patent attorneys.

China handled altogether 35,844 patent administrative law enforcement cases in 2015 with a 46.4% yearly increase; therein, 14,607 cases were patent disputes (including 14,202 patent infringement disputes), with a 77.7% yearly increase, and 21,237 cases were patent counterfeiting cases, with a 30.6% yearly increase.

In 2015, the Patent Reexamination Board of SIPO accepted 12,678 requests for reexamination and 3,724 requests for announcement of invalidation, and concluded 25,756  requests for reexamination and 3,652 requests for announcement of invalidation.

Main Features of Chinese Invention Patents in 2015

Firstly, the annual number of Chinese invention patents applications broke the 1 million mark for the first time. The number of accepted invention patent applications in China kept a steady growth and rose to 1.102 million, increasing by nearly 20% and accounting for 39.4% of the total amount of China’s patent applications in 2015. The increasing proportion of invention patent applications in China’s overall patent applications demonstrates China’s improving capacity of innovation. Moreover, China granted 359,000 invention patents in 2015, 263,000 of which were from Chinese domestic applicants. The rapid growth of the number of granted invention patents demonstrates the improving innovation capacity of Chinese innovators, and China’s increasing capacity of accepting and examining patents applications.

Secondly, the number of invention patents exceeded 6 per 10, 000 people. By the end of 2015, the number of invention patents in China reached 6.3 per 10,000 people, successfully achieving the objective of China’s “Twelfth Five-Year Plan”. Among the valid invention patents in China, 922,000 were from domestic applicants, accounting for more than 60% of the total amount. By the numbers, invention patents from China’s domestic applicants have obvious advantage over invention patents from foreign applicants, yet it is noteworthy that in term of quality, there is still a wide gap between invention patents from China’s domestic applicants and invention patents from foreign applicants: the average duration of valid invention patents from China’s domestic applicant was 6.0 years, while that of valid invention patents from foreign applicants was 9.4 years; the average lengths of the description and claims of valid invention patents from China’s domestic patents were 7.3 pages and 7.8 pages respectively, while those of valid invention patents from foreign applicants were 18.5 pages and 17.4 pages respectively.

Thirdly, dominant position of enterprises in creating intellectual property had steadied continually. In 2015, Chinese enterprises filed for 583,000 invention patent applications, accounting for 60.2% of the total amount of accepted domestic applications for invention patent, basically holding the line with 2014. Chinese enterprises were granted 159,000 invention patents, accounting for 60.5% of the total amount of granted domestic applications for invention patent, increasing by 4.1% over 2014. As main players on the market, enterprises continued to play a decisive role in self-dependent innovation.

Fourthly, gap still existed between China’s and foreign patent concentration in certain technical fields. In 2015, China had more invention patents from domestic applicants than those from foreign applicants in 28 technical fields out of the 35 technical fields classified by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), increasing by six technical fields over the year of 2014. However, China still fell behind in seven technical fields, including optics, engine, transportation, semiconductor, basic communication procedures, video technologies and medical  fields, especially in the optics and engine fields, where the number of invention patents from foreign applicants was 1.6 times and 1.5 times that of invention patents from domestic applicants respectively. Seen from valid invention patents with duration over 10 years, the number of invention patents from foreign applicants was 2.2 times that of invention patents from domestic applicants, and even 6.4 times in the transportation field. Therefore, China still needs to strengthen its patent concentration in certain technical fields.

Date: January 14, 2016
Source: State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO)

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